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10 McGill stories

  1. A university is born

    James McGill and the birth of McGill University

    The oldest university in Montreal, McGill was founded in 1821 from a generous bequest by James McGill, a prominent Scottish merchant.
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  2. Flourishing under Sir John William Dawson

    Re-invention of McGill under Principal Sir John William Dawson

    Throughout his 38 years as Principal, Sir John William Dawson reinvented McGill as a university to rival the world's finest. His commitment to McGill extended even beyond academics – Dawson personally funded the monumental beautification effort that created the stunning campus we enjoy today.
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  3. The forgotten war memorial and the campus that never was

    Historic McGill Architecture that was never built

    Over the years, architects have proposed a variety of plans for McGill’s lower Downtown Campus, including a gym on Sherbrooke St. and an imposing tower in the Redpath Library. Here's a small selection of big ideas from McGill’s earliest days that never made it off the drawing board. Join us as we tour an imaginary campus — the McGill that might have been.
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  4. The birth of three sports

    McGill and the birth of hockey, football and basketball

    McGill is a place where people come to hone their intellects and exchange ideas. But hard work needn’t come at the expense of hard play—and McGillians certainly like to exercise more than just their minds. In addition to being home to exceptional student teams, and alma mater to many star athletes and coaches, McGill has also played a key role in the creation of three pillars of sport.
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  5. Founding Macdonald College

    Founding McGill's Macdonald College

    Since its founding a century ago, Macdonald Campus has turned agricultural studies on its head and sent thousands of grads out into the world armed with a world-beating knowhow, a roll-up-your-sleeves attitude and memories of an institution like no other.
    A rural revolution
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  6. McGill's women: blazing trails

    McGill's women blazing trails

    In 1884, women began attending classes at McGill—a step forward made possible by benefactor Donald A. Smith (later Lord Strathcona). In honour of Smith, McGill’s female students were known for decades as “Donaldas.”  In the ensuing years, female McGillians would make landmark contributions in every field imaginable, and in 1912 McGill appointed the first woman university professor in Canada: Carrie Derick, a pioneering geneticist who created the first ever course on genetics and evolution.
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  7. How McGillians and their ideas changed the world

    McGillian ideas, research and their impact on the world

    For 190 years, McGill has provided fertile ground for intellectual pioneers who changed the world through their discoveries and ideas.
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  8. Bonus feature: Make-Believe McGillians

    McGill in television, literature and movies

    Some of the University’s most remarkable graduates – daring doctors, stellar scientists and international adventurers – never actually existed.  Check out some of the most interesting McGill-trained TV, movie and literary characters who never lived.
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  9. Laying the foundations of modern heart surgery

    Dr.Maude Abbott and her contribution to Cardiology

    When Maude Abbott, BA'1890, MCDM'1910, joined McGill's Department of Pathology, little was known about how to surgically repair damaged hearts. Through her work as the assistant curator of McGill's medical museum, Abbott collected and studied the hearts of people who had died of cardiac problems, and scoured historical records for accounts of heart disease, meticulously cataloguing and identifying cardiac anomalies identified during autopsies. The result was the 1936 Atlas of Congenital Cardiac Disease, which laid the foundation for modern heart surgery.
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  10. Breaking the bonds of genetic destiny

    McGill researchers Moshe Szyf and Michael Meaney and their contribution to Epigenetics

    Together, McGill researchers Moshe Szyf and Michael Meaney discovered that our genetic code – the actual sequential structure of our DNA – can pretty much shrug off the influence of any external environmental factors, short of massive radiation. But the expression of individual genes within that sequence can be permanently altered by such seemingly innocuous influences as diet, or how others treat us. Once triggered, a group of molecules called a methyl group attaches itself to the control centre of a gene, permanently switching on or off the manufacture of proteins that are essential to the workings of every cell in our body. The landmark definitively proved that our genes can be altered by factors in our day-to-day lives, freeing us from the shackles of genetic predetermination.
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McGill University, 1991-Present« 1991–Present
Three McGill grads enter orbit, five students are elected to Canada's Parliament, a young life is saved an ocean away, and sustainability sweeps McGill.


Read about McGill PioneersMcGill pioneers »
Osler and Penfield revolutionize medicine, Milner unlocks the secrets of memory, Rutherford gains insight into the atom, and Humphrey pens the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.